Why Cab Drivers Regret Going Electric in D.C.

August 15, 2017

When taxi driver Habtamu Tarekegn decided to “go green” by buying an electric car, he was excited about the potential for economic independence at a time when D.C. cabbies are struggling to compete with Uber.

After years of renting older taxis from large fleets, Tarekegn welcomed the opportunity to finally obtain his own license, or H tag. The District’s Department of For-Hire Vehicles (DFHV) issues new tags in only a handful of circumstances — including the purchase of a new, 100 percent electric vehicle.

There also were financial incentives: the District had a limited number of $10,000 grants to help cabbies like Tarekegn cover the cost of a new car. Additionally, he would eliminate the cost of  gasoline.

Now, however, with D.C.’s electric taxicab program in its second year, Tarekegn is among a group of 120 drivers who say they regret going green.

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